Friday 26th April
‘….As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from Heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”’ (Verses 3-6)
Over the last few days we have been looking at examples of people who were radically transformed by an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Although there are numerous examples of lives being transformed in the Bible, I wanted to conclude with what I believe to be the most radical and exciting transformation of all, Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
Saul was a hardened radical Pharisee. He despised Christianity and anyone who was affiliated with the ‘church’. Chapter 9 finds us reading of his encounter with Christ. Paul had just witnessed and agreed to the killing of Stephen by stoning and now was on his way to further persecute ‘the Way’. With the High Priests backing and the synagogues support around the Damascus region, Paul filled with hate and anger had one mission; to arrest and bring the Christians back to Jerusalem, bound in chains.
Yet Jesus had other ideas. In one moment of divine visitation, Jesus confronts the very man who in effect had been persecuting Jesus Himself. Paul after being confronted by Jesus had his life changed. In fact Jesus knew what He had planned for Paul already. In verse 15 Jesus comforts the worried Ananias with these words “Go, for Saul (Paul) is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to the Kings, as well as to people the people of Israel.” Jesus in the moment of His appearance to Paul radically changed his desires and commissioned him to be used to spread the Gospel of Christ rather than oppose it.
(On a side note it is interesting that Jesus stops Paul by the power of His words. This again proves that Jesus humbly went to the cross as a Lamb to the slaughter. He could have stopped all that was happening to Him by just His words yet He chose to endure the cross for us.)
It amazes me that the grace of God could have even been extended to someone like Paul. His desires were to persecute and extinguish the work of Christ, yet through his encounter with Christ the opposite happened. Not only was his life so radically changed, he was responsible for bringing Jesus to the lives of thousands in his time and many more since then.
See Jesus doesn’t meet us solely for our own lives to be transformed and then that’s His work done. No, on the contrary. He transforms our lives so He can use us for the extension of His Kingdom through word and deed. Jesus’ work in us should also be manifest through us. It is not a passive inward change but an internal, external and active transformation. Christ through you will bring change to the world. If Christ has radically changed you then Go and bring show Him to others.